Regardless of who you are today, you had dreams and goals in mind when you were young. Maybe you dreamed of playing professional baseball or maybe you aspired to be an astronaut.
Life happens. As a result, those dreams may have fallen by the wayside. Why is that? A lot of times we settle for jobs we don’t love just for the paycheck, so we can live. The cash starts rolling in and now you have a lifestyle that you have become accustomed to. You cannot change and do what you really want because you have so many obligations. Does this sound familiar?
I understand this situation very well because that is how my life played out. I was on that treadmill for almost forty years. I did things I did not like, only because of what I could put into my pockets as a result. Many times, I tried to convince myself that I liked what I was doing. Even though I detest gambling and alcohol, both played a role in my livelihood.
I learned how to “take action,” or bookmaking, from an older gambler named Mark. Mark had been a bookie for at least twenty-five years when I met him. In fact, I am sure he is still taking action to this day – well into his eighties.
I had expressed interest in making money through bookmaking and loansharking (also known as shylocking) to a number of men associated with the Los Angeles cosa nostra family. They all knew me as a kid who worked hard and brought in cash, so they put me in touch with Mark. I began to work for him, and during that time I mastered the art of running a sportsbook. This was in a time before either cell phones or the internet. We used a series of payphones, hardlines and answering machines to run the business. We got our updates on odds and point spreads from what was known as the “Island Line.” We also had Las Vegas contacts who helped with lines and laying off some of the action. Mark pulled in a great living from sports gambling and he also ran some after hours card games.
I took to this “job” because I liked the attention, and most importantly, I liked the cash that came with it. I used to tell myself that the money I brought in gave me the freedom to do what I really wanted to do in life. Looking back that is funny because I can tell you this: I never did much of anything else. I spent all of my time running the business and living it.
It’s important, to be honest with yourself about your gifts, your goals, and your dreams. You must decide if what you are doing or will be doing is right for you. Does it align with your values? Is it what you were created to do?
You will most likely spend years working at something to get it working well enough to put dollars in your pocket. This where your own personal values come into play. When I was young I had some vague, at best, personal values – and it showed in how I conducted myself. Once you have a good personal value system in place, the decisions you make will help guide you toward lasting success.
Clarity of purpose is key to living a successful happy life. Once we find our purpose in life, it will help guide and shape our decisions. In the end, being successful looks different for every single person.
I was lost for so many years until I came back to living a life that wasn’t about my desires but about God’s purpose for my life. I was lost and broken, but I could never understand why I was feeling the way I did. When I found my faith I realized that life was not all about me, it was much bigger than that.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
2 Timothy 1:9
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.